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EDITORIAL: Biden prioritizes poll numbers over cutting carbon

Global warming isn’t as big of a crisis to President Joe Biden as his sagging poll numbers.

Politico reported recently that the Biden administration met with representatives of the fossil fuel industry. This time, officials weren’t scolding them about carbon emissions. Instead, they wanted help bringing down the cost of gasoline. Gas prices have increased by more than $1 per gallon over the past year.

The irony is palpable. “The latest outreach to the oil industry,” Politico noted, “is an awkward shift for the Biden administration.”

No kidding. One might have thought the soaring prices at the pump would please Mr. Biden. “We are going to get rid of fossil fuels,” he pledged during his presidential campaign. “By the way, I would transition from the oil industry,” he said during a presidential debate last October.

The president followed those promises up with action. One his first moves in office was to kill the Keystone Pipeline. He suspended oil and gas leases on federal lands. A federal judge issued an injunction blocking that decision, and the court battle is ongoing. Mr. Biden also suspended oil and gas leases approved by the Trump administration in Alaska’s Arctic.

Finally, the administration has hinted it will pressure the banking system to deny financing to many fossil fuel projects.

There are many factors that play into the cost of gasoline. But the hostility to domestic energy producers embedded in the White House’s policies and edicts was explicitly intended to limit supply, thus increasing prices. You can’t “get rid of fossil fuels” and keep the cost of gasoline low.

Yet paying more to drive around town isn’t popular with the American public, which is already casting a skeptical eye toward Mr. Biden’s performance. His approval rating as of late last week was 42.8 percent in the Real Clear Politics average. His disapproval stands at 51.3 percent. That puts him 8.5 percentage points underwater.

Independent voters are driving this decline. A recent Quinnipiac poll put his approval rating among independent voters at 28 percent approval compared with 56 percent disapproval. That’s a five-alarm political crisis for Mr. Biden and every Democrat running in a competitive district next year.

Thus, we now have this rudderless administration pleading with OPEC to ramp up production and meeting with the very same American oil and gas producers they have vowed to put out of business.

Certainly, Mr. Biden’s stumbles in Afghanistan and the border crisis haven’t helped him. But the country’s ongoing economic problems are hurting him badly. A recent Grinnell poll put Mr. Biden’s approval on the economy at 36 approve, 53 disapprove. Voters are now concerned about inflation, too, and the most obvious sign of higher costs are gasoline prices. Gas stations advertise it all around town. Many drivers fill up every week or more.

During a Thursday CNN townhall meeting, the president threw in the towel. “I don’t see anything that’s going to significantly reduce gas prices right now,” he said. “My guess is you’ll start to see gas prices come down as we get by going into the winter, I mean excuse me, into next year in 2022. … I don’t have a near-term answer. It’s going to be hard.”

Yet it remains highly revealing that, when Mr. Biden faced a choice between accepting rising gas prices as a painful, but necessary, part of saving the world from global warming or trying to lower gasoline prices to save himself politically, he chose the latter. Remember that the next time an activist or politician describes global warming as an “existential” crisis.

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